March 29, 2016
OSHA levies $117K in fines for Houston nursery after worker injury
Houston Garden Center cited for 16 violations, including 2 repeat and 13 serious
Employer name: Quality Christmas Tree Ltd., doing business as Houston Garden Center
Location: 1700 West Loop North, Houston, Texas 77008
Citations issued: March 28, 2016
Investigation findings: Inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Houston North Area Office initiated an inspection of a Houston Garden Center location after receiving a complaint about an unreported hospitalization in December 2015. They determined an employee fell from a container hoisted aloft by a forklift. After its investigation, OSHA cited the employer for 13 serious violations, two repeat violations and one other-than-serious violation.
The serious violations included failing to:
- Protect employees from fall hazards with elevated platforms and scaffolding.
- Provide personal protective equipment.
- Train employees on the use of powered industrial trucks.
- Protect employees from electrical hazards.
- Label containers containing chemicals with names and types of hazards.
- Provide employees with adequate sanitation, such as soap and toilet paper.
The repeat violations included failing to:
- Provide an accessible eye-wash station.
- Implement a hazard communication program; maintain safety data sheets and failing to provide hazard communication training.
OSHA cited Quality Christmas Tree for the same or similar violations after an inspection at its Spring, Texas, facility in February 2015.
Houston Garden Center was also cited for failing to report an employee's in-patient hospitalization within 24 hours.
Proposed Penalties: $117,000
Quote: "A dangerous fall that hospitalized an employee - which the employer failed to report as required - led us to inspect this Houston Garden Center location," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in the Houston North office. "In addition to conditions related to the fall, we found more than a dozen serious violations, including a lack of basic sanitation for employees who had no toilet paper and soap to wash their hands. Only one pair of safety glasses existed for the whole worksite and we found electrical and chemical hazards. There is no excuse for all these violations, and the employer must correct them."
Information: Quality Christmas Tree is a retail garden and nursery with 23 stores in Houston area. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Houston North office at 936-760-3800. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Juan Rodriguez, 972-850-4703, firstname.lastname@example.org
Release Number: 16-604-DAL
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